How to Get Baby to Nap Tips
If you’re a parent to a young baby, you know how important nap time is. Naps help your baby get much-needed sleep and can prevent them from getting overtired and cranky. And, let’s face it, naps are important for us parents too. Naptime is often the only time during the day when you have a few minutes to yourself. You may use it to catch up on chores around the house, do some work, or even try to rest a little bit yourself.
When your baby won’t nap, it can be very frustrating. Not only is your baby not getting the sleep they need, but you aren’t getting a break yourself. Putting together an over-tired baby with a stressed-out parent isn’t a great combination.
If you’ve been having trouble getting your baby to nap, read through our tips below. Every baby is different. So, what works for one baby might not work for another. You may have to try a few different ideas, but you should be able to find something that will help your baby start to nap.
1. Develop a Naptime Routine
If you don’t have a consistent naptime routine, then that may be impacting your baby’s ability to fall asleep and take a nap. Your baby is never too early to start a routine. Establishing a routine will help your baby realize that naptime is coming and will prepare them to fall asleep. Don’t expect your baby to instantly accept your new routine. You will need to be consistent with setting it up and using it every day at naptime. Soon, they will learn that it is time to go to sleep.
Some things you can consider adding to your naptime routine include:
- Diaper change
- Singing a quiet song or reading a book
- Turning off the lights
- Snuggling or rocking your baby for a few minutes.
2. Build-in Time to Calm Down Before Naptime
If your baby has just been overstimulated, it will likely be difficult for them to fall asleep. A little bit before naptime, enjoy some quiet time with your baby. Turn off any electronics or noisy toys. Consider reading a book together, playing a quiet game, or taking a quiet walk outside. Your baby’s age will impact the type of activity you may choose to do together.
3. Learn Your Baby’s Cues
If your baby won’t nap, you may need to start paying more attention to their cues that let you know they are tired. It is important when you see your baby making these cues, that you try to get them down for their nap as soon as possible. If you wait too long, they may become overtired and inconsolable. This will make it very challenging for you to get them to take a nap. Every baby is different, but some of the cues you can look for to let you know that your baby is tired include rubbing their eyes, yawning, looking like they are zoning out, or arching backward.
4. Start Naptime Before Your Baby Gets Overtired
As we shared in the section above, it is important to get naptime started before your baby gets overtired. If they have been getting overtired, it may be a reason why your baby won’t nap.
5. Sit with Your Baby for a Few Minutes Before You Put Them Down
Sometimes, sitting with your baby in a dark room for a few minutes can help a baby who won’t nap. This can help them calm down and become drowsier. Once you think your baby is calm, try gently placing him into his crib.
6. Put Your Baby Down When They are Still Awake
While it may be tempting to try to hold your baby and rock them until they fall asleep, this is not something you’ll want to do. First, many babies who are used to falling asleep in their parent’s arms will wake up as soon as they are put down. Always rocking your baby to sleep can also create a negative association for your baby. They will become used to getting rocked to sleep and will have a hard time falling asleep on your own.
This is why it is best to try to put your baby down in their crib while they are drowsy, but still awake.
7. Use Blackout Curtains
Another thing you can try for a baby who won’t nap is to use blackout curtains. Blackout curtains can make a room much darker than traditional curtains or shades. Sometimes this is what a baby will need to help them fall asleep. Making the room darker will remove other distractions and can help your baby fall asleep more easily.
8. Try a Noise Machine
In addition to blackout curtains, a noise machine can be very beneficial for a baby who won’t nap. Noise machines play white noise or nature sounds that are designed to help your baby sleep. These sounds will be heard instead of other noises around the house, such as the vacuum, two people talking, or the TV, that may be keeping your baby awake.
9. Try a Different Naptime
Adjusting naptime is another thing you can try when your baby won’t nap. Perhaps your baby just isn’t tired when you are trying to put them down. Try moving naptime back half an hour or so. Or, if you think your baby may be overtired by your current naptime, try pushing it forward a bit.
10. Sleep Training
Some babies do very well with sleep training. If your baby won’t nap, you can consider trying to sleep train your baby. Sleep training is best to try when your baby is at least four months old. There are different methods of sleep training you can try. If you are unsure which method is best for you, you can always check with your pediatrician.
11. Try to Avoid Driving Around Naptime
If you notice that your baby is catching short naps in the car, you may want to try to avoid driving around their naptime. Sometimes when babies take a short nap, they will not fall back asleep for their regular nap. If you think this is happening, you may want to try to adjust your schedule to make sure that you aren’t driving right around naptime.
12. Make Sure Your Baby Gets Plenty of Activity
Finally, ensuring that your baby gets plenty of activity can help with a baby who won’t nap. Keeping your baby active can help them get tired out and encourage them to take a nap. There are a variety of different activities you can try, depending on your baby’s age.
This is very important for babies, especially those who aren’t moving around on their own yet. Tummy time can help your baby develop their neck strength. It will also help them move around a bit and get a little more tired than they may otherwise be.
Once your baby has learned how to crawl, having them crawl around in a safe space is a great way for them to get some activity. Crawling all around the house can really help them get tired out and get them ready to catch some zzzz’s.
Going for a Walk
Taking a walk outside is another great idea to try if your baby won’t nap. Even if your baby isn’t walking on their own yet, pushing them in a stroller will help them get some fresh air. Fresh air can also be helpful for getting them to go to sleep.
Going to the Playground
The playground is a great place to visit to get your child some outdoor activity. If they aren’t old enough to walk around on their own yet, consider pushing them in a baby swing. This will get them moving around a little bit and will definitely get them plenty of fresh air.
Playdates are a great way to get your baby more active. During a playdate, your little one will be chasing after the other kids. If they aren’t moving around on their own yet, they’ll be busy watching the other kids and interacting with them. If you can, try to schedule some playdates that will end a little bit before naptime. This could help your baby who won’t nap.
If you have a baby who won’t nap, you likely feel like you’re at your wits end. But, don’t despair. There is hope! Try a few of our suggestions and hopefully you’ll baby will be taking great naps in no time. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to babies and naps. So, try to pick a routine and stick with it as much as you can.